by Billy Kirk February 05, 2018

There’s some weird sh** that goes on in this world.

We’ve all heard the rumors of “Illuminati!” and all the sarcastic jokes that surround it, but there are actual secret societies, both past and present, that have been home to some of the greatest power players our world has ever known. While their exact influence on society is up for debate, the level of intrigue definitely is not.

Whether you’re a dedicated conspiracy theorist or just someone looking for a fun bit of mystery to chase the Monday blues away, let’s brush up on one world governments, the occult, and more below!


1. The Bilderberg Group

Without fail, a Bilderberg Conference has been held every year since 1954.

While the initial meeting was shrouded in secrecy at the Bilderberg Hotel in Oosterbeek, Netherlands (pictured), since then, approximately 140 participants have gathered at The Grove Hotel in Watford, England.

But why?

A list of discussion topics for the 2013 conference emerged around the time of the meeting, alleging chats that included "Can the U.S. and Europe grow faster and create jobs?” and seminars regarding medical trends and U.S. foreign policy. However, many believe the top-secret, invitation-only summits are more sinister in nature.

In his book, The True Story of the Bilderberg Group, Daniel Estulin claims that it’s a “shadow world government.” These are the people manufacturing our wars, influencing our financial markets, etc.

There may be some truth to this—the 2013 Bilderberg Group meeting reportedly included Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama, Henry Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch, George Soros, Eric Schmidt (Google), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), the Rockefeller clan, Warren Buffett, and others. Makes you think, doesn’t it?


2. The Freemasons

Unlike The Bilderberg Group, this is a name you know well.

Admittedly, you may have some friends or even family members that belong to a Masonic Lodge. They’re a fraternal order of men that do some great work in today’s society. However, like most organizations, there have long been rumors and innuendo about what the truly elite within their hierarchy are up to.

Getting its start in London in 1717, the group quickly gained the attention of Christians skeptical over its rumored practices. Charges against the Freemasons have included such claims that they effectively operate as their own religion, following a Masonic “God” that goes against mainstream teachings. Additionally, aspects of the lodge’s symbolism (the pyramid, for example), have led to suggestions that a select few at the top of the Masonic “pyramid” hold all the knowledge, while those at the “base” are left in the dark over the true machinations of the society. Such machinations have included purported ties to the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and others.

While much of the above may be silly fiction, here’s a cool fact: 14 total Masons have risen to the office of president. These include George Washington, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Gerald Ford. 


3. The Order of the Skull and Bones 

Founded by William Russell in 1932 following a trip abroad that left him inspired by European elite mystical clubs, Skull and Bones is the oldest Yale University secret society. When Russell returned from his excursion, he brought in Alfonso Taft—father of future President William H. Taft—as co-founder.

Religious ceremonies and worship are not so much rumor as they are fact when it comes to Skull and Bones; the society has been set up in worship of Eulogia, a goddess of eloquence that harkens back to 322 B.C. They also embraced pirates (aarrrggh!!) and motifs of death (there’s a fancy vocabulary word for you), including the placement of coffins within the “Tomb” on Yale’s campus (pictured above).

Like the Freemasons, there are strong presidential ties to Skull and Bones. George W. Bush’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, allegedly robbed Geronimo’s grave in 1918, stealing his skull and placing it on display within the Tomb (again, see da pic). Notably, both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush would later become Bonesmen.

Hot takes on Skull and Bones include the suggestion by Alexandra Robbins that it’s really just a branch of the Illuminati (there it is again!), or that it controls the friggin’ CIA.

That would be… worrisome.


4. The Rosicrucians 

It’s the granddaddy of them all!

The Rosicrucians was a society founded in the early 1400s by Christian Rosenkreutz. Soft whispers in dark corners alleged the group practiced the occult in order to bring into being a “global transformation,” but the society didn’t really hit its stride in the public consciousness until two hundred years later, when three published manifestos brought great attention.

With the stated objective of the order allegedly being to "built on esoteric truths of the ancient past,” historian David Stevenson suggests that The Rosicrucian Society and its manifestos were instrumental in the formation of Freemasonry in Scotland. Further, many consider it a guiding force in the creation of all modern secret societies, including the infamous Illuminati.

(Seriously, we should have set up a drinking game at the beginning of this article wherein you had to take a shot every time we said “Illuminati!”)

Many, however, consider The Rosicrucians a fake order—nothing more than an entertaining public experiment—but if you’re a true believer, you’ll be pleased to know the “Rosicrucian Tradition” has lasted into the 20th century. Peep the above Rosicrucians ad from an issue of Popular Mechanics in March, 1953.


5. The Knights Templar 

We couldn’t leave The Knights Templar off this list. This is the group most burned into the minds of, well, everyone.

You don’t need to be a historian or even a conspiracy theorist to know about The Knights Templar. They’ve been featured in Indiana Jones, for Pete’s sake. (Does anyone under the age of 50 use that phrase anymore?)

But in case you need a refresher, here you go: Early in the 1100s, nine knights banded together and vowed to protect pilgrims moving throughout the Holy Land. Soon, more gentlemanly knights got in on the deed, and then sometime later on everyone was tortured and burned at the stake.

Wait. We think we skipped a step or two. OK, hang on.

After the noble beginnings of the Templars (about 20 years), it became officially recognized as a Catholic military order in 1139. As their membership grew, they became a favored charity that eventually became influential in Christian finance—about 90% of the eventual membership weren’t actual “knights” at all. And with money often comes greed and abuse of power, and sure enough, some consider the Knights the globe’s first multinational corporation. And following the crusades, rumors were stoked that they guarded sacred Christian relics, including the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant.

It’s a little convoluted—just peep Wikipedia for the full history—but following their loss of the Holy Land, the Templars fell out of favor. And due to all the rumors of their freaky initiation ceremonies and such, King Philip IV of France seized on the paranoia to gain control over the society. Why? Again, it was all about money—Philip was deep in debt to the order.

With the help of Pope Clement V, Philip disbanded the Templars in 1312 and burned a bunch of them at the stake for heresy. Nonetheless, the stories of their influence and holy relics stand the test of time even today.

Billy Kirk
Billy Kirk